Loggerhead Shrike in Maine

Loggerhead Shrike

This morning Ingrid and I were enjoying a leisurely Sunday morning, drinking coffee, reading the paper and complaining about politicians that clearly are not as smart as we are.

Then our phones pinged . . . the legendary Brookline (Massachusetts) Bird Club was in Maine . . . and had spotted a Loggerhead Shrike in Kennebunk.

Shrikes are sometimes referred to a “Butcher Birds” due to their propensity to impale their prey on thorns or barbed wire.

During the long, cold Maine winters Ingrid and I will occasionally see Northern Shrikes perched on small trees scanning for their next meal (small song birds).  Once the weather warms in the spring . . . Northern Shrikes retreat back into Canada.

Northern Shrike

Their southern cousin, the Loggerhead Shrike is a common bird across the American south but is rarely seen north of Virginia.  A Loggerhead hasn’t been reported in Maine since 1990, and prior to that it was a series of sightings (6) in the 1970s.

So when birders from the Brookline Bird Club reported a Loggerhead, we were moving fast . . . as it was a 90 minute drive, and the bird could disappear at any moment.

We arrived at Kennebunk Plains, a grassland preserve . . . and not surprisingly the parking lot was filled with birder cars (i.e. Subarus).  Sadly, the Loggerhead had just flown . . . and the group spread out along the road scanning the small trees and shrubs for the bird.  After an agonizing 20 minutes, a young woman named Brit found the Shrike, and we watched it from a distance for about 45 minutes.

Loggerhead Shrike

It moved from tree to tree searching for its next meal (grasshoppers), occasionally being chased by an Eastern Kingbird.

 The Loggerhead Shrike was my 359th Life Bird in Maine and Ingrid’s 342nd.  That may seem like a lot, but the State Life Record is 405, held by Maine Audubon Naturalist Doug Hitchcox (406 if he gets the Shrike).

My goal is to live long enough to get to 400.

Below is a video Ingrid took in Texas last year.

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